A Reader's question:
I take my 9 year-old grandson who has ADHD[i] and related issues to an after school "chug" (club) of Kapuera[ii] hoping to build confidence and control impulsive behavior. He is in a special education class in Talmud Torah.
Today, while sitting outside the classroom during his third lesson, I heard drum beating Kapuera music with men singing. The music made me uncomfortable. I remember hearing in a shiur (Torah class) that non Jewish music has negative effects on a Jewish neshama (soul).
I would like to know if I should stop sending my grandson to this chug, and if learning Kapuera and hearing its music permitted. The instructor, a young bachur (teen Torah student) from Brazil who seems to be shomer mitzvoth (keeps commandments) says there is no problem but I would like to have a Torah perspective.
That Brazilian slave music has an entirely non-Jewish tradition, both physically and spiritually. I personally did not like it as it reminded me of the spiritualism of Africa.
Music can be an extremely helpful tool for children like you describe your grandson, but if there is a more "paarve" (neutral), or better yet, Jewish based music for him to be exposed to it would certainly be better for him. Children, especially children like your grandson, digest such things that they experience and they become an engrained part of their childhood memory.
I would suggest, if possible, for you to seek out some warm Jewish music group for the boy to be with. Singing, or better yet, playing Jewish songs would strengthen his attachment to Jewish people and to Jewish values.
Beside the activities that special children are unable to do comfortably, they almost always have some special talent. It is as if Hashem has taken something away from them, and has given them something in its place. Often with "special" children the added gift can be a strong sense of kindness, taking great joy in simple things, or sometimes their special gift is to be able to dance very well, or to play music.
Search to find what your grandson does especially well, and try to help him to develop that talent. Obviously, if it is music, you will want him to learn pleasant, Jewish music. Whatever the talent, see how you can use it to also joyfully increase his love of Torah.
I hope this has been of some help.
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